Vauxhall are celebrating the tenth birthday of their legendary high-performance VXR models. First introduced to British shores in 2004, the VXRs set a new benchmark for the standards expected of high-trim but affordable cars. In fact, the success of the VXR brand has been so great that it’s not uncommon to see drivers affix aftermarket VXR badges to their standard Vauxhalls, in an effort to accrue some of the fabled VXR prestige. UK car enthusiasts have always embraced the VXR, with total sales of the models in the UK now exceeding 20,000, making the British market the biggest in Europe for Vauxhall performance cars.
Vauxhall VXR Range
The current range includes the Corsa VXR , the 207bhp Corsa VXR ClubSport, the Astra VXR and Insignia VXR. The latest addition to the roster is the VXR8 GTS, a 576bhp beast with the same 6.2-litre V8 engine that’s featured in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 muscle car. With a combined power output of nearly 1,578bhp, the VXR range is not to be sniffed at, and there are few performance car ranges that offer as much power for your pounds; the VXR8 GTS alone offers the same performance figures as a Ferrari 458 Spider or Lamborghini Murcielago for a quarter of the cost, with a price tag that starts at £54,999. The first car to bear the VXR name were the VXR220 and Monaro VXR which were launched in the summer of 2004 at the British Motor Show. The now-discontinued Monaro was designed as ‘a true rear-wheel drive car for enthusiasts’ and rivalled the performance of the top-spec BMW 6-series at the time, while the price tag was 40 per cent cheaper.
Past Vauxhall VXR Models
Past models also included VXR versions of the popular Zafira and Meriva family people-carriers, with 236bhp apiece, Recaro bucket seats and chassis development that took place at the Nurburgring’s infamously merciless Nordschleife route. More recent VXR models like the Astra VXR and Corsa VXR ClubSport come included with high-tech instruments and features to help tame ever-increasing power outputs including modern differential technology to improve road grip. Other technological additions include torque vectoring and adaptive all-wheel drive on the VXR8 GTS and Insignia VXR to manage power transfer to each individual wheel and FlexRide adaptive damping on the Insignia and Astra VXRs to control the vertical movement of the cars. In addition to the anniversary of the VXR range, this year also marks the birthdays of two other iconic performance Vauxhalls, the Calibra and Lotus Carlton, both of which are celebrating their 25th anniversaries. The Calibra was unveiled at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show and became the most aerodynamic car in its class, proving to be a more than capable rival to such giants as the Ford Sierra Cosworth and Lancia Delta Integrate, and over 40,000 Calibras were produced until production was halted in 1996. The Lotus Carlton, meanwhile, was a collaboration with Lotus Engineering and produced a 377bhp twin-turbocharged performance car, which at the time was the fastest four-door saloon in the world.